Group Dynamics & Relationships in Group – Question and Answer

January 19, 2010 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

Here is a question asked by a new Girls Circle Facilitator and the beautifully written answer by Kitty Tyrol, the GCA Senior Training Manager about Group Dynamics that we thought might be helpful to everyone.

GC FACILITATOR QUESTION: … I am starting a group with a co-facilitator and in our group there are 2 girls engaged in a relationship with each other.  We haven’t started the group yet… but I wondered if you had any thoughts about this dynamic in a group.

KITTY TYROL ANSWER: Certainly – thanks for the question – be up front about it with each of the girls, individually, BEFORE going into the Circle.  Explore both the benefits and the challenges of being in relationship and coming into a group with other girls; especially if they are both mandated and this is the only group they can attend.  Ask the girls if other girls know about their relationship, how they want to handle it coming up in the group (b/c it will become fairly obvious), and how open they are to exploring the benefits/challenges with the other girls in the group.  By doing this, you are acknowledging the importance and reality of their relationship as well as the impact on the group dynamic.  As well, you are giving them some input on how to present it within the group.

It will be very important to establish guidelines for their relationship and their behavior within the group, especially around romantic affection and flirtation. Share your concerns (as well as how their relationship might affect how other girls feel in the group, without having her partner there).  And ultimately, share concerns or explore how to manage any difficulties between them that may show up in group (if they aren’t getting along or have even broken up).  Use preventions all the way – having them think ahead about solutions and how to self-manage while honoring the right of the group to manage their feelings about it too.  What a great opportunity!!!!

At some point, take it to the group for discussion.  Let them know that all tough topics can be explored in Girls Circle and this is a great opportunity for them to hear from other girls as well as to share their own abilities to honor the Circle, guidelines for behavior, and each other in the company of others. Take it to the next level, too, by exploring what to do/respond should NEW relationships come up among girls in group.  This is a good way to keep the topic in perspective, whether there is a “couple” currently in the group, or a “couple” forms among group members while you are running a long-term Girls Circle.

Get clear with your own feelings too – perhaps with a colleague (or we can talk on the phone) – before you head into this…remember your “triggers” are your friends for anticipating what will be difficult and for developing good questions ahead of time for exploring the issue.  Clear boundaries and adherence will be essential.  Remember, “kindness in your voice and firmness in your follow through.”  Being honest about any bias, judgment, or fear you may have about this type of relationship or its impact on the group is your work!

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